Putting together care packages isn’t as easy as grabbing a few magazines, some nonperishable food items and slapping a stamp on a box. Deployed spouses can have some pretty tall orders. Here are 10 amazing care package ideas that are sure to have your spouse feeling loved and comforted while away from home.
10. For the techy spouse
Your spouse may be living in a makeshift home for now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make him or her feel like the world is in the palm of their hand. Help them feel connected to the rest of the world with some cool gadgets that will help them forget they’re in the midst of a deployment. Ok, maybe they won’t forget, but it will sure make the separation more bearable. Bluetooth speakers are a great item to include in a care package because they’re lightweight, don’t require outlets and virtually guarantee to lift spirits for everyone near your spouse as he or she plays music to get people moving.
Many spouses also take advantage of their time overseas to improve their overall health and fitness. A fitness tracking bracelet or band will help your spouse keep track of their progress and reach their goals. The Jawbone Up24 retails for $149, but other brands retail for much less. The Jawbone Up24 and others sync with smartphones to track steps, miles and calories burned…even while sleeping. Sure it doesn’t fall within the uniform regulations, but your spouse can slip it on to exercise and watch the calorie burning counter tick up!
But if your tech-loving spouse prefers to kick back rather than kick box, there are some great streaming services available for less than $100. Gift your loved one streaming capability with a Roku device. The Roku 3, for example, connects to a TV and allows users to browse all of their selections, like they would with a cable box. Your spouse can stream HBO, Hulu, Netflix and more. The Roku 3 even allows users to stream games with a remote control and check out information from USB drives and memory cards.
Invest in a gadget and compliment the item with something inexpensive, like popcorn and snacks to accompany the television streaming Roku; or some workout shirts and athletic socks to go with a calorie counting band. If you send Bluetooth speakers, include an iTunes gift card or throw in some cheesy glow sticks so the troops can have an impromptu dance party!
9. For the romantic spouse
Barry Manilow is in the house! If your spouse is romantic, it’s time to pull all the stops and flip the script. If he or she is always surprising you with loving messages, it’s time to step up your game. Fill a box with hearts of all shapes and sizes to compliment the romantic contents of this care package. Purchase some of the most romantic movies you can find, from The Notebook to Titanic and classics like When Harry Met Sally and Top Gun. And write your spouse a love letter like you’ve never written before. Take the time to explain why you love him or her and why that love is stronger now than ever before. Then, write separate letters for different occasions and put them in envelopes, sealing them from corner to corner. Specify on the outside of the envelope when your spouse should open the letter, for example, “Open when you’re feeling lonely,” or “Open when you’re feeling ill,” or “Open when you’ve had a bad day.” This truly becomes a care package that keeps on giving well after it’s been opened.
8. From the kids
This DIY project is fun for everyone involved. Have your children send their deployed parent a piece of their heart in a tin! Repurpose an altoid tin or find something comparable at a craft store. Allow the child to decorate the box inside and out with scrap paper, stickers, beads, paint and charms. On the inside, the child can choose one of his or her favorite photos of themselves or of one of them with their parent. Paste the photo inside along with a handwritten note folded up. If your child is old enough to write the letter by his or herself, let the child write it and place it in the tin without showing you so it becomes a special message just between that child and the deployed parent. If you need to write the letter for the child, transcribe exactly how the child speaks, poor grammar and all…this letter needs to be genuine. Place it in the care package with items the child picks out all on their own, from candy and snacks to items around the house. Maybe your child can even let mom or dad “borrow” one of the child’s stuffed animals until they come home from deployment. Pack it away and seal the box together. Not only does this project, teach children about recycling and art, but it strengthens the bond between the child and the parent who is deployed. This is a gift from the heart of a child and one the parent can easily slip into his or her uniform pockets…carrying that tin, and the child’s heart, with them wherever they go.
7. You put what in a jar?
What can’t you put in a jar? Cake in a jar, s’mores in a jar, pickled veggies in jars, muffins, trail mix, banana bread. The list seriously is endless. You can even make pie in a jar. The contents doesn’t matter, what matters is that baby is vacuum sealed with love. Show your spouse that you’re thinking of them by filling jars with their favorite foods, sealing them and packing them safely for transport around the world. The idea of packing tasty treats into jars isn’t just cute and fun to do, it also makes the treats easy to share. If your spouse is willing to put his or her life on the line for others, then your spouse is probably the type who doesn’t like to see others go without. If your spouse notices someone hasn’t received a care package for awhile, tossing that person a jar filled with delicious cake is easy to do. The jars can be stored and stacked easily and passed out with ease. Make sure to carefully pack the jars, so they make it their in tact.
6. For the College Student
Is your spouse continuing his or her education by working toward a college degree? Help them stay on track with a care package full of study tools and relaxation tips. Pack in all of the goodies like highlighters, flashcards and classical music to create a soothing environment for your spouse to study. Include their favorite gourmet coffee for late night cram sessions and chocolate covered coffee beans to keep him or her alert when they’re feeling too drowsy to read. Get them to smile by including “smarties” candy role so they know just how intelligent you think they are.
Aromatherapy is proven to improve productivity; the sense of smell is the strongest of the senses and influences brain activity. Did you know the scent of lemons promotes concentration and has a calming influence? And according to Entrepreneur magazine’s writer Lisa Evans, rosemary is the perfect Monday morning pick-me-up. “In addition to improving memory retention, rosemary has stimulating properties that fight physical exhausting, headaches and mental fatigue.” Peppermint is also proven to be the scent of choice for brainstorming sessions; it is an energy boosting scent promoting concentration and clarity.
5. For the Vegetarian
The health conscious spouse who refuses to eat meat and loves to snack on healthy, organic foods is probably craving those crunchy snack bars that used to be simple to grab anytime throughout the day. Satisfy their hunger with healthy trail mix, dried fruit and CLIF bars. Sweeten their day with Peeled Snacks, a great choice for vegans. Pack tea and vitamins for your sweetie. You can also invest in small freezer bags and a small cooler so your loved one can easily transport fruits and vegetables from the mess hall to his or her room if given the chance. Kale and Zucchini Chips also keep for a long time and satisfy any salt craving. Lastly, instead of packing cookies, you can share “energy balls.” These require pitted medjool dates, cashews, coconut flakes and almond or coconut butter. Young and Raw CEO Sheleana Jennings shares the easy recipe on her website: www.youngandraw.com
4. For the Meat Lover
The meat lover is an easy recipient to pack for. You can’t go wrong with jerky; think beef and turkey jerky and slims. Send sealed bags of potato flakes for easy just-add-water potatoes so your meat and potatoes man or woman can smash on some comfort food. Throw a little humor in the box too and make it a “guy’s night with beer scented hand soap, available from Stateside Man Goods, a veteran owned business. USMC veteran Mike Lee started the company after receiving dozens of “ordinary” care packages, so if there’s a man out there who knows what deployed troops want, he’s the guy. “There are few paths to a real man’s heart: alcohol, tobacco, sex, guns, the outdoors and food. Throw in sports, particularly ones that involve fighting and there you have it.” The company boasts they’ll have the best gifts for your guy, boasting simple gift baskets, full of products carefully chosen by guys.
But if you’re man isn’t that stereotypical guy, or maybe your wife is the one serving overseas, you can still add some humor with a little bit of class. Send a wine scented air freshener, soap or lotion and you’ve got the perfect date night (minus the spouse back home): meat, hearty side of potatoes and alcohol.
3. For the Handy Spouse
If your spouse likes to pass the time by using his or her hands, then help them get started on a project. It is a amazing to see some of the items troops can build while deployed. From workout benches to desks and bookshelves, they can make something amazing out of scraps. Log onto Pinterest (you know you were heading to that website to browse anyway) and find some interesting DIY pallet projects; there are endless pallets lying around base camps all over the globe. Tipsaholic.com provides step-by-step directions for making a hanging swing from pallets and rope. Find some interesting concepts, print the photos and directions and include some basic small tools in your care package. Your spouse won’t only be grateful for the ideas, but appreciate that you took the time to make supplies lists, provide directions and inspiration.
2. For his (or her!) eyes only
Nobody is encouraging you to pose nude and risk leaking discriminating photos to strangers, but there is no harm in creating a pretty, flirty photo book for your deployed spouse. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you’re someone your spouse is deeply attracted to and sincerely misses. Enlist the help of a friend or splurge on professional photos and create a romantic book for the love of your life. It’s not all about sex appeal, either. Throw in some photos from your wedding day or your favorite vacation together…if it screams “I love you!” put it in the book. Use a digital service online, such as snapfish or shutterfly or do it the old-fashion way and print the photos and put it together like a scrapbook. Throw some confetti in the box, a cd filled with your favorite love songs and a few love notes, reminding your spouse that you’re looking forward to being close to one another soon.
1. Something to cheer your spouse up
When you can’t physically be there to pick your loved one up when he or she is feeling down, you can be there emotionally and in spirit. If your loved one doesn’t already have a Bible or another book to restore his or her faith and strengthen their religious views, provide a book of prayers or affirmations. No matter your religious background, there is something out there powerful enough to help your spouse feel centered when their world is rocked. You can be there to get them through the bad times too. Find an old jar and clean it out, on teeny tiny piece of paper, write encouraging messages and statements for your partner. Decorate the outside and write, “The Happy Jar” on it. There is a photo circulating on Pinterest of a jar full of little messages and on the outside it reads, “To be used when you’re feeling low, in sunshine, rain and even snow. Just pluck one out and soon you’re see, a happy message to you, from me!” The idea is genius, cost effective, yet priceless.